Aswin punathambekar Headshot

Aswin Punathambekar, Ph.D.

Aswin punathambekar Headshot
  • Professor of Communication
  • Director, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication

Aswin Punathambekar studies media and cultural change in postcolonial and diasporic contexts, with a focus on media industries and institutions, formations of audiences and publics, and cultural identity and politics. He takes cultural and historical approaches to studying global media and communication with a particular focus on South Asia and the South Asian diaspora in the U.S. and the U.K.

Aswin Punathambekar is a Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, and Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC). Previously he taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and held a British Academy Global Professorship (2020-2024, affiliated with Loughborough University in the U.K.).

Punathambekar’s scholarship braids together three areas of research: the ongoing transformation of both established and new media industries with a focus on the production and management of national, racial, and ethnic identities; the vexed relationship between popular culture and politics with an emphasis on how media entertainment serves as fertile ground for audiences and publics to restyle the meanings and performances of citizenship; and cultural histories of media technologies and industries that explore continuities, resonances, and ruptures within and across radio, film, television, and a host of digital media platforms. These research interests have led to several articles, books, and anthologies including From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry (2013), Television at Large in South Asia (2014), Global Digital Cultures: Perspectives from South Asia (2019), and Media Industry Studies (2020).

Punathambekar is currently finishing a co-authored book – A Fragile Popular: Media Entertainment and Cultural Politics in Digital India (with Sangeet Kumar and Sriram Mohan) – that explores the centrality of mobile and digital media platforms to the circulation of media artifacts and new idioms of political expression that stem from creative and quotidian appropriations of popular culture. He is in the early stages of two other co-authored book projects – Indian Television: A Cultural History of a Postcolonial Media Industry, with Shanti Kumar), and Making Diasporic Worlds: A Cultural History of British South Asian Media (with Diwas Bisht, Julia Giese, and Simron Gill).

Punathambekar is an editor of the peer-reviewed journal Media, Culture and Society and co-editor, alongside Jonathan Gray and Adrienne Shaw, of the Critical Cultural Communication series at NYU Press. He serves on the editorial boards of several other journals including the International Journal of Cultural Studies, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, and BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies. He also serves as a Juror for the Peabody Awards in the U.S.

Punathambekar is the recipient of scholarly awards including the Katherine Singer Kovacs Award for Best Article from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Outstanding Young Scholar Award from the Popular Culture and Media Division of the International Communication Association.


  • B. Tech., University of Allahabad, 1995
  • M.A., University of Georgia, 2001
  • M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007

Selected Publications